In one of the largest studies of its kind, a computerised brain training exercise program has been shown to reduce dementia risk in users by up to 29% over a 10-year period.
The program, known as BrainHQ, was trialled by 639 cognitively healthy adults, out of a total cohort of more than 2,500 participants.
The participants were randomly placed into four groups:
1 – a memory group receiving classroom instruction on memory strategies;
2 – a reasoning group receiving classroom instruction on reasoning strategies;
3 – a speed of processing group receiving individualised computerised BrainHQ training in a classroom setting; and
4 – a control group (who received no intervention).
Participants attended up to ten sessions over an initial six-week period and then further sessions periodically over the next four years. They were then followed for up to 10 years to assess their brain health.
What did they find?
At the end of the 10-year follow up period, researchers found no significant difference in the incidence of dementia for the first two groups, (i.e. those that received memory or reasoning training), as compared to the control group.
However, the speed of processing group, which was engaged in computerised BrainHQ training, showed a significant reduction in the incidence of dementia, and the more sessions attended, the lower the risk became.
Participants in the computerised BrainHQ training group were trained on a specific task designed to improve the speed and accuracy of visual attention, including both divided and selective attention.
Dr Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science which manages BrainHQ said this type of training harnesses plasticity to engage the brain in an upward spiral toward better physical and functional brain health.
The research team now plan on undertaking more research to validate their results and the training product. They would potentially like to offer it more widely as a dementia risk reduction tool in the future.
View the original research via Alzheimer’s and Dementia – Translational Research and Clinical Interventions.